Coronavirus (COVID-19) support study experiences of and compliance with self-isolation: main report

This research explores compliance with and experiences of the 10 day period of self-isolation undertaken by index cases, contact cases, and international travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research took place between March and June 2021.

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Appendix A

Key definitions used in this report include:

  • Self-isolation: refers to the approach under the Test and Protect system whereby individuals are asked to remain at home or in managed isolation (see below) for a period of 10 days from: the onset of symptoms (or longer if the symptoms have not gone), contact from Test and Protect, or return from international travel. Those asked to self-isolate should not leave their house/accommodation unless this is solely to get or return a COVID-19 test and should not receive visitors from outside their household. Where possible, those self-isolating should try to maintain physical distancing from others within their household who have not been advised to self-isolate.
  • Index Case participants: those asked to self-isolate as a result of testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Contact Case participants: those asked to self-isolate as a result of coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Two types of Contact Case were included in the study (i) those who lived in a household with an Index Case and (ii) those who came into close contact with an Index Case but did not live in a household with them.
  • International Travellers: those asked to self-isolate after return from travel outside of the UK (see Chapter 5 for details of changes to the requirements for self-isolation that took place during wave 3).
  • Managed isolation: refers to an arrangment for International Travellers where self-isolation takes place as part of a quarantine package in a hotel.
  • Subjective/self-assessed compliance: this refers to responses to the question where participants were asked to provide an assessment of their compliance with self-isolation requirements.
  • Behavioural compliance: this is a derived measure of compliance based on how soon an individual started to self-isolate after being advised to do so, whether or not they left their home/accommodation during this period and how long they were able to self-isolate for. When used in combination, a person's responses to these measures (listed in Table 2.3 overleaf) were used to provide a measure of a participant's overall compliance. A participant who complied with all of these measures is described as 'fully compliant'. Someone who complied with some, but not all, is described as partially compliant and a participant who did not comply with any is described as non-compliant.
  • Formal support: this refers to key sources of support outside of friends, family and neighbours for those asked to self-isolate and covers the offer of contact details being passed on so that an individual's Local Authority could contact them regarding their support needs (Index and Contact Cases were eligible for this) and potentially up to two further times during their self-isolation, individuals contacting their Local Authority directly (all case types) and individuals contacting the National Assistance Helpline (all case types). See Chapter 8 for more details on the formal support offer.
  • Self-Isolation Support Grant: this is a form of financial support available for those self-isolating as an Index or Contact Case who are on a low income. A one-off payment of £500 is available if an individual is on a low income, is not able to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating.
Table 2.3 Behavioural compliance constituent measures
Self-isolation requirements included in measure of behavioural compliance Definition of compliance used
Start self-isolating straight away Starting to self-isolate immediately after being advised to, or in advance of this, OR the only reported activity carried out before starting self-isolation was COVID-19 test-related activity
Do not leave home/accommodation Not leaving home/accommodation during self-isolation period OR leaving but only reported activity carried out when left was COVID-19 test-related activity
Self-isolate for 10 days Isolated for 10 days or still self-isolating at the time of taking part



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